Lowell Milken was unfairly tainted


To the Editor:

The Breaking News item titled "UCLA faculty member decries $10 million Milken gift gives neither a clear picture of the facts regarding Lowell Milken’s four decades of philanthropy involving the Jewish community in Los Angeles, Israel and around the world, nor the fact that Lynn Stout, a law professor, has leveled insinuations against him that are contrary to the rule of law in the United States.

Legal experts have confirmed that Lowell was included in the investigation not because of anything he did but to bring pressure on his brother. When Lowell’s brother settled the charges brought against him, the Securities and Exchange Commission required that Lowell also settle. Lowell had vigorously denied all charges, but agreed to settle provided he did not have to admit to any wrongdoing or pay any fine or penalty.

As part of the settlement, Lowell signed a consent decree with the SEC to refrain from holding certain positions in the securities business — positions he had never held and never intended to hold in the future. After Lowell settled with the SEC, the New York Stock Exchange asked to take his deposition. He was not required to appear for the deposition, was not a member of the exchange and never desired to be one.

So the fact is, Lowell Milken has never been found to have participated in any wrongdoing. Professor Stout’s attack on Lowell — and attempt to deny UCLA School of Law and its students the benefits of a generous gift — is grossly unfair to a philanthropic alumnus who has led an exemplary life. It is contrary to the legal principle in the United States that one is innocent unless proven guilty and is obviously the reason that the law school faculty, the dean and the chancellor of UCLA unequivocally support the gift and appreciate the generosity of Lowell Milken.

Lowell Milken has been a contributor to UCLA, including the School of Law, for many years. Professor Stout, in fact, has knowingly benefited from such funding.

As noted by Dean Rachel F. Moran, “We thoroughly weighed all of the issues that Professor Stout has raised, and we came to a distinctly different and well-reasoned conclusion. In doing so, we applied fundamental principles of fairness that are foundational in American law. We looked at all facets of the record, we were careful to refrain from guilt by association, and we assumed that individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty."

Moran added that Lowell Milken "was never convicted of any crime, and indeed, there were neither admissions nor findings of any wrongdoing. I do not believe that decades-old, unproven allegations should serve as a basis for rejecting a gift from a person who has made enormous contributions to the betterment of others and now wishes to do even more.”

Bonnie Somers
Senior Vice President, Milken Family Foundation
Santa Monica, Calif.

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